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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 March, 2005, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Council to remove grave tributes
Ornaments on graves at Hawarden cemetery
The council has said graveside ornaments may be removed
Unauthorised ornaments will be removed from graves in Flintshire if relatives ignore cemetery rules.

Flintshire council was told that statues, vases, and even solar-powered lanterns had hindered maintenance work and posed health and safety risks.

Regulations say one headstone and one vase is permitted on each plot.

Flintshire councillors agreed on Tuesday to take enforcement action if warning letters were ignored.

Cemetery staff had reported problems at Hawarden No.2 cemetery, with a wide variety of objects including plants, lights, and windmills being installed.

Council officers said such items prevented maintenance staff from carrying out their work safely.

They asked councillors to approve the confiscation of unauthorised items from the graves and a decision is expected to be made on Tuesday.

Mark Tami, the MP for Alyn and Deeside, had earlier expressed his concern, saying that he hoped any enforcement action would be dealt with tactfully, and only after discussions with the relatives concerned.

Mark Smith at Hawarden cemetery
Mark Smith has personalised his brother's grave

"I am sure from the council's point of view, they have really got perhaps to the stage where they think things are getting a bit out of hand," he said.

"But equally there are relatives that feel they want to show their respect for their loved ones."

Mark Smith, whose brother's grave is in the cemetery, said the measures were "ridiculous".

"We pay for that plot and that is our piece of land," he said.

Anti-social behaviour

Officials said that the trend towards "excessive tributes" was making it difficult to maintain graveyards.

They proposed confiscating and storing items for three months. If relatives did not claim them, they would be disposed of.

An authority statement said: "All new grave owners are informed that, in lawned cemeteries, only one moveable vase is permitted along with the headstone.

"This is to enable grounds staff to maintain the cemeteries, which has become increasingly difficult and can pose a health and safety risk.

"If a similar situation arose in other lawned cemeteries we would need to look at it."

They are also said to be concerned that lights could attract anti-social behaviour to the graveyard at night.

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